Address: Suite 190A Graham Hall, University of Delaware
City: Newark, Delaware - 19716
Country: United States
Dr. Lindsay Hoffman joined the faculty of the Department of Communication at the University of Delaware in September 2007 after receiving her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University. Her research examines how citizens use internet technology to become engaged with politics and their communities. She also studies individual and contextual effects of media on individuals' perceptions of public opinion; the effects of viewing political satire on knowledge and participation; social capital and communication; and factors leading to public-affairs news use.Dr. Hoffman's research is theoretically grounded in political communication, mass communication, and public opinion. Her work emphasizes both the social circumstances and psychological predispositions that influence individual media uses and effects. Her research also examines the components of mediated messages that encourage individuals to participate in -- or distance themselves from -- political activities such as voting, news viewing, or simply expressing opinion.Dr. Hoffman holds a joint appointment in the Department of Political Science and International Relations, and is the Associate Director of the Center for Political Communication. She is also the Director of the annual National Agenda Speaker Series. She teaches courses in political communication, politics and technology, media effects, and research methods.
Race, Ethnicity and Politics
Political Communication Online
This study examines the implications of messages within a fragmented media environment for public opinion about net neutrality. Drawing on media effects theory and an analysis of media messages, it argues that different forms of media use—including consumption of traditional news, partisan cable news, political satire, and streaming video services—can exert distinctive effects on public familiarity with and support for net neutrality. Moreover, it extends research on information subsidy and intertextuality to argue that political satire use can interact with other forms of media use in shaping public responses to complex policy issues such as net neutrality. Using original data from national telephone surveys conducted in 2014 and 2015, the analyses reveal that various forms of media use predicted familiarity with and support for net neutrality. The findings also suggest that exposure to political satire can shape the translation of information obtained from other sources into opinion.
What explains public opinion toward transgender people, rights, and candidates? Drawing on original data from a national telephone survey of US adults, this study explains attitudes regarding (1) the personal characteristics of transgender people; (2) a variety of transgender rights; and (3) transgender candidates for public office, measured through a randomized experiment included in the survey. Results indicate majority support on most policy questions, but more tepid views of transgender people, and solid opposition to supporting a transgender candidate for office. Our analyses reflect and extend previous research on American public opinion. Respondents’ fundamental values (egalitarianism, moral traditionalism, party identity, ideology, and religiosity) and personality characteristics (need for cognitive closure) predict views of transgender people and support for their rights. A significant relationship also emerged between television use and views of transgender people, suggesting that media portrayals may play a role in shaping these perceptions. In contrast, there is no evidence that interpersonal contact with a transgender person is related to opinions. Further, many of these independent variables have little moderating effect on responses to transgender candidates, which remain negative among most subgroups.
Rapid advances in technology have provided the potential to connect citizens to their surroundings in unprecedented ways. While many scholars examine different types of efficacy as a predictor of behavior (e.g., internal, external, and political), it is essential to examine how confident citizens feel in their ability to use the technology before understanding how they will use it politically. Research shows that perceived competence increases motivation, which is correlated with behavior. This study examined how traditional measures of efficacy and a new measure affect online political behaviors, concluding that technological efficacy is a reliable construct predicting online news use and expression.
Voters and political candidates increasingly use social networking sites (SNSs) such as Facebook. This study uses data from an online posttest-only experiment (N = 183) in analyzing how exposure to supportive or challenging user comments on a fictional candidate's Facebook page influenced participants’ perceptions of and willingness to vote for the candidate, as well as whether candidate replies to each type of user comments affected these outcomes. Participants who viewed a page with supportive comments and “likes” reported more favorable perceptions of and greater support for the candidate, relative to participants who viewed a page with challenging comments. Thus, the appearance of interactivity between a candidate and other users on the candidate's Facebook page can shape the responses of those viewing the page. However, exposure to candidate replies to either supportive or challenging comments did not lead to significantly more favorable perceptions or a greater likelihood of voting for the candidate.
The way citizens use technology has changed dramatically in just the last decade; nearly one-third of American adults own tablets, and almost a half own smartphones. But it is not just ownership that is on the rise; citizens are increasingly using such technology to communicate about and participate in politics. The present study utilized a multimethod approach to tap into how technology affects citizens’ political behaviors online in the context of the 2012 U.S. Presidential primary season. Compiling survey data with tablet-tracking behavior in a field experiment, results showed that users spent more days with online aggregators (such as Google and Yahoo), recreational sites (like games), and social interaction sites than news and politics. But when they did spend time with news and politics, they spent an average of 10 minutes on each news page, and national/regional news was the most visited subtopic. User-specific descriptive analyses provide portraits of each user’s demographic makeup and online political behavior. Finally, we linked user ideology to user behavior through accurate, real-time behavioral observations. Results suggest that participants are more likely to view news from their own ideological perspective than the other, demonstrating evidence for selective exposure.
Political knowledge is a concept of central importance in political communication research, yet exactly how it should be operationalized has been a long-running conversation among scholars. The study of political knowledge is rooted in democratic theory, which suggests that citizens should be informed if they are to participate in a democratic society. Political knowledge is also referred to as political sophistication or political expertise. Generally, political knowledge is defined as holding correct information. However, the type of information can vary dramatically from study to study—from civic knowledge, to issue knowledge, to candidate information, to the structural relationships among cognitions. Because political knowledge is so often seen as a bedrock of a democratic society, scholars often examine what cultural, economic, and political antecedents play a role in increasing or decreasing political knowledge. However, knowledge can also be examined as a predictor of behaviors like voting, a moderator in the study of framing effects, or a mediator between communication and political behavior. But the problem that plagues political knowledge research, just as it has plagued scholars of general knowledge for centuries, is how to measure it. Like general knowledge, which is often measured in exams or through IQ tests, political knowledge isn’t directly measurable. Political knowledge cannot be fully captured in a series of test questions. The challenge facing scholars interested in this important variable is one of measurement and interpretation, which means that there are many ways to measure political knowledge.